Check this out -- Justin Timberlake hosted an art exhibit last night with Amy Adams showing the work of her partner Darren Le Gallo. JT’s wife was there too and together they had their moment with Paul Thomas Anderson who, of course, directed Adams recently in The Master, for which she received yet another Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. Look at the two of them, Pips and Shelf, totally Twi-Harding PTA. It was just confirmed a couple of weeks ago that PTA will start shooting the film adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice this Spring. Who wants it more -- Mr or Mrs Timberlake?
In other Timberlake news, he will perform at the Grammys on Sunday followed by a full set at the Hollywood Palladium immediately after. And he’s just signed a deal with Bud Light Platinum and his first minute-long commercial for the label, Suit & Tie inspired, of course, will air during the Grammys.
But, like all celebrity premium partnerships these days, the messaging is that this is not just a simple endorsement. JT has been named the “creative director” for the Bud Light Platinum brand which is a fancy way of suggesting that they’re paying him a lot of money but he’s also involved in the actual brainwork behind the marketing too. Alicia Keys entered into a similar deal with Blackberry last week. Beyonce before that with Pepsi. And Jay-Z was doing it in 2006 when he was made “co-brand director” of Bud Select.
Now here’s a topic for the Faculty of Celebrity Studies: why the shift from endorsement to collaboration? Well, you have everything to do with it. WE have everything to do with it. Gossip has everything to do with it. Ten years ago, when PEOPLE Magazine was the celebrity’s main connection to the fan, and they could control their messages much more effectively, authenticity was not the concern it is now.
Over the last decade though, the Celebrity Ecosystem has been exposed. The celebrity money machinery is much more obvious even to the casual observer now. We know their salaries. We see them wearing their free sh-t. We see them flying around all deluxe. We are told they are treated differently, special. But it’s only aspirational if it’s not distasteful. The aspiration doesn’t work when the resulting emotion is distaste. And more and more, especially as world economies struggle, distaste is rising. Which is why celebrities now have to disguise their straight up money grabs in language that implies they don’t just sit around collecting cheques, they actually actively participate in the building process. In practice that probably doesn’t mean much more than JT telling them he’ll put their logo in his video but, as you know, in this business, it’s all about how you communicate the scheme. They’ve just replaced the word “Spokesperson” for “Creative Director”.